Global sport strongly interrupted by coronavirus

PARIS: The coronavirus is disrupting sport worldwide with the Moto Grand Prix in Qatar and Thailand postponed, a series of football postponed matches for a later date and growing concerns around the Tokyo Olympics later this year.

The virus has already cast a long shadow on the start of the Moto GP season against the backdrop of Qatar this Sunday. MotoGP canceled, followed by the March 22 race in Thailand.

I don't say it's canceled, I just say it is postponed until time allows us to do (the event), Anutin Charnvirakul, chairman of the Thailand MotoGP organizing committee, told AFP.

One of the first races of the Formula One season, the Shanghai Grand Prix on April 19, has already been postponed, although organizers say the season-opening race in Australia on March 15 will continue as planned.

The Olympic chiefs will meet on Tuesday and Wednesday in Lausanne to discuss the impact of the virus on preparations for the Summer Games in Tokyo, and to address the unthinkable and disposable world show of world sports for the first time in peacetime.

Other events are under immediate threat. The remaining matches in the 2020 Six Rugby nations The union tournament is at stake: an emergency meeting of the organizers in Paris was convened on Monday.

The virus has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, mainly in China, and its effects are being felt throughout the world economy.

Sport is no exception.

In Italy, the European country with the highest number of deaths at 34, the outbreak wreaked havoc on A series football matches at the weekend.

Six games were postponed, including the clash between Juventus defending champions and Milan's Inter Milan title rivals in Turin, originally scheduled to be the main game Sunday night.

The Italian government has signed a decree that stops sports activity in the northern regions that have been most affected by the virus until March 8, unless it is carried out behind closed doors.

That decision means that another five games next week can only continue if they are played in empty stadiums.

The Italian league has convened an emergency meeting for Wednesday in which discussions will be held on how to handle the chaos of the matches.

Football in Asia has been greatly interrupted, with the start of the Japan J-League postponed until mid-March and a hugely reorganized list of matches for continental competitions.

Rugby officials will meet in the French capital to consider if more changes are needed in the calendar for the last two rounds of the Six Nations Championship.

The March 7 game between Ireland and Italy in Dublin has already been postponed and a replacement date has not yet been set.

The annual tournament, the main rugby competition in Europe, is scheduled to conclude with matches involving the six teams on March 14.

The UAE Tour, a cycling warm-up early in the season that featured the four-time Tour de France winner Chris Froome , was cut short last week after a coronavirus scare.

Looking ahead, concerns are deepening over this year's main sports event, the Tokyo Olympics , which is due to begin on July 24.

Hundreds of thousands of spectators, athletes and officials will gather in Japan for the Games.

President of the international Olympic committee Thomas Bach said last week his organization was fully committed to holding the Games in Tokyo as planned despite the widening coronavirus outbreak.

Ominously, the decision will depend on factors over which Olympic officials do not exercise control, and sports federations are already twisting their hands on the interruption and forced cancellation of the qualifying events for the world show.